Savvy Mastermind #003

Training your team with online learning with steve cornEy from learn awesomE

Steve is a “learning strategist” who is passionate about learning and knowledge. He knows how tough it is to not to be able to find and keep great staff… and then have to go figure it out all by yourself. That’s why he helps business owners onboard and engage their onsite or offsite team without feeling lost and frustrated, using the latest technology.

During this mastermind, we talked about helping your team learn through creating training materials, an organised learning hub, and interactive eLearning. Steve answered questions about on-boarding, training, and up-skilling your team!

About Steve

Steve introduced himself as a Learning Strategist, and his job involves being professionally ignorant about something to help his clients build learning solutions for the end user. He translates your expertise into normal person speak!

He helps businesses of all sizes translate their learning and digitise their knowledge. Basically, download their expertise into learning materials, including

  • Online learning
  • Face to face learning
  • Hybrid learning

 

Why digitise your knowledge?

The point is to capitalise on and maximise the knowledge and skills to help your business grow, scale, generate leads, or increase loyalty within your existing customer base.

Education is one of the only things that builds knowledge, likeability and trust, which is the holy trinity in terms of customer confidence, staff confidence and getting new leads into your business. If you can achieve that, you're going to win.

Have a think about how many menial tasks do your clients hit you up with, during the course of the month? Instead of answering the same question each time or performing the same basic task, you can teach people how to do that stuff themselves.

For example, let's say your people call you and ask you, “How do I interpret this bank reconciliation that you've done for me?”

So instead of going, “Hey, this is what you do”, and explain that 30 times over to your 30 clients or so… you can take a more proactive approach. Instead, you could build a little digital learning module around how to interpret a bank rec. Install a screen recording software. Put a bank rec up on the screen. Talk about it. Highlight the key areas, and just email that out to your existing database and say, look we love you, we want you to have control we value your ability to make these decisions yourself. So we've committed to making some educational stuff about that. And straight away, what that does, is reactivate a lot of dormant clients as well.

You've built likeability, trust and credibility, and so all of a sudden, they're feeling empowered to do the work. They're still going to make mistakes because, let's be honest, what business owner really understands their finances? But then what they're going to do is, they're going to come back to you with really purposeful questions that are going to stimulate you and challenge you, and put you in the position of being the expert in your field. All the while, you've actually given away some things about how you do what you do.

And if you’re worried about giving away this information, and think your clients will stop using your services as a result, don’t be. The opposite tends to happen. And they’ll want to tell the world about where they found this information. And then when they don't know how to do their GST or their BAS, who are they going to choose? Your business.

 

Online learning for your staff to help reduce (or soften) high staff turnover

In the bookkeeping industry, it can be difficult to either get good staff or get the best out of them. A lot of times, staff will come for a few weeks, and then leave.

The thing with staff is they're only as good as the training and as the onboarding that you can do. One of the biggest challenges that we see with employees or staff, they're there because they want to do the job. And sure, they’re getting paid, but they’re also looking for leaders and other motivations. They’re asking, “Do I feel like the organisation I work for is empowering me and giving me the tools that I need to succeed?”

With the right training resources, you can give them these tools to succeed and let them upskill and learn at their own pace.

 

Make new employee onboarding easier

And you don’t want to be training one-to-one with your team all the time. It's not sustainable. It's taking you away from your clients. It's taking them away from your clients. It means no-one's running the business while you're onboarding them. Then if they leave, you've got to do it all over again! So this is where digital learning and digital knowledge academies come in. If you can capture the process of how to use QuickBooks or how to insert software, how to insert all of your processes and procedures for your business, and so on, you capture those digitally, then you can systemise your onboarding.

So instead, on your new employees first day, you can:

  • Greet them at nine o'clock, whether it be virtually or face to face
  • By ten o'clock, you've done a face to face chat/induction, welcome, coffee, celebration, balloons, whatever you do
  • Then give them the keys to your online knowledge hub or digital academy
  • Tell them to get familiar with your onboarding course, software course, plus OHS for records
  • Then you can hook up again at midday to see where they’re at

All the while, you’re doing your job, talking to clients, and they’re learning and onboarding themselves.

Plus it means they can do it at their own pace. Some might take an hour. Others might take 3+ hours. The key here is getting smart about how you position and compile and capture the processes and procedures and standard operating practices of your business.

How do you motivate the staff and especially the younger generation? In addition to the processes and procedures, actually download some of your CV and some of your experience into digital snippets. Think of the way that these younger generations like to work. They want to work remotely. They want to work on a flexible schedule. But the way that they consume content is also flexible as well. They're used to watching two or three-minute videos on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, all that sort of stuff. So try to avoid putting together an hour-long training session – they’re not going to get it.

Plus, once you've got that database of training, it actually kind of takes away the pain of that higher turnover of staff, the ones that want to move on.

 

Amy’s experience doing a training video:

The first day I had a complex payroll, I recorded it on a video, and I went through the payroll but I talked out loud as I was processing it, and then I sent the video to the bookkeeper. The following Monday morning, when I woke up, I knew the bookkeeper was doing the payroll without me being there, and I thought to myself, “Cool. I'm gonna sleep in this morning.” And it was a really good feeling.

 

Tips to help you learn more effectively:

  • It’s important to set time aside for it
  • Turn your phone off and focus
  • Create a time in your diary where you focus on consuming content
  • Look into more creative ways to consume the content
  • Use face-to-face sessions for more practical application
  • If you're reading something that's very technical, and very theoretical, the best way to retain that knowledge and really embed that learning, is to go and apply it as soon as you've read it, or even while you're reading it
  • Go and teaching someone else what you've just learned, or tell someone else about what you've just learned

 

What about training for virtual employees or offshore teams?

Virtual employees, they're humans too. The only difference is that if you’re crossing a language barrier, you need to be mindful of that when you're building material. Not only do you need to understand your audience, you also need to understand their basis or their centre of control and knowledge base as well. So, they'll know the technical stuff, but if you're doing complex instructions, you'll need to just focus on the real, core, fundamental message for each of these chunks of knowledge? And then, once they're ready, and they've demonstrated they've got past the initial stage of learning that, then you can embed the complexity.

How does someone actually make time, when it feels like you can't even stop, to develop some kind of training? How do you make that transition?

Building training material and investing time ('cause you do need to invest time in it), is sort of like equity in your house, right? It's going to be a long game strategy.

So, I mean, you can keep going without it, and you'll be fine, you'll keep securing clients, you'll keep doing a great job which is absolutely fantastic. But, there will come a point where you will no longer be able to take on clients, but that won't stop you, because you'll keep telling yourself that, “It's okay. I can just squeeze another hour out of the day. It's fine.”

Then, real crazy stuff starts to happen, like burning out. And, that's not good for anyone. And eventually, you'll get back to the point where you're going, “Man, I wish I bought property, 10 years ago.”

So, I guess it's just recognising long game versus short game strategy, and putting off a little bit of short-term gratification. Maybe that you say no to a client, in the interest of building your training repository, so that once you've got your resources captured, not only are gonna be able to scale rapidly, then you can then service another 10, because you're able to put on two more humans, to service them.

But also, if you ever want to exit your business and move on and live on a deserted island for the rest of your life (whatever your motivation is) you don't come with the purchase.

So, if all of your knowledge, and all your skills, and all your goodwill is in your skull, it's very to hard demonstrate value to someone that's going to buy a service-based business with clients. On the flip side of that, how much more value would your business be worth if you could sit down with the prospective buyer, log onto your digital academy and show them, “Hey! This is where every part of this company lies. All the information, all the processes, all procedures, all the training docs.”

Literally, all you have to do is introduce them to your clients, shake their hands, and off you go. You're done.

So, it's definitely a time trade-off, but it's definitely prioritising and recognising the difference between short-term gratification in the form of clients and money, and having the confidence to back yourself, and apply a bit of a long-game strategy.

How long does it take to set up a learning hub? What software do you need?

I set myself a challenge. And, I think it only took me like two minutes thirty. I'm a big fan of DIY, and just as you should be with your clients, right? Whether it’s Teachable, Thinkific, or you pay thousands of dollars for someone to build it, it doesn't really matter. At the end of day, the content is the key. And, the learning experience, and the learning strategy is really important. That's the make or break. You can use any platform to deliver it.

But, equally, the steps that you need to take to, obviously, create content, is super important as well. So, I'm a massive fan of having all those resources available for everyone to go and do it. Because, until you get your feet in the water, you not gonna know. You not gonna know how long it takes, and what will happen.

There's a screen recording software called Loom, L-O-O-M. It's free, and it allows you to record your screen, and then you take those screen records, and you can send them to your clients.

 

Are these videos or digital learning meant to be in conjunction with manuals that you have for your staff? Or does it replace it?

Do both. People have preferences in their learning style, but people aren't limited by their sensory preference. They've done a lot of research into sensory preferences, and they found that, yep, you can have preferences, but it doesn't inhibit your ability to use other methods to learn. You're just giving them the flexibility to choose the way in which they go about doing it.

Also, what it does is that it's a home for that document. Right now that document may sit in a manila folder on a shelf, and you have to print it out for every staff member that you've got. By digitising it means it's immortalised in the cloud sitting there ready for anyone to access whenever they come across it.

Steve’s offer for the Savvy Mastermind

Steve can help you do this. He’ll help you figure out exactly the direction that's going to work for your business. To do that, the first step is to understand your business and the strategy behind exactly how he might go about helping you and all the different intricacies that exist in your business.

If you want to have a 15-minute chat specifically about your business and about how this stuff can relate, he’ll do that for zero cost. You can book a chat with Steve here.